There are many misconceptions regarding divorce law and procedure in New Jersey. Here are some common myths and what you need to know
- I need my spouse to “sign” so I can get a divorce
Sadly, many unhappily married people waste a lot of time and delay moving forward with their lives as the result of this myth. Your spouse does not need to sign or agree to be divorce in NJ.
If you want to move forward, you should speak with an attorney so you can understand the proces
- I need to be separated for 18 months before I can file for a no-fault divorce
While this was once true, this law was changed years ago but the myth persists. Today parties can be divorce using the no-fault ground of irreconcilable difference without the 18 months separation waiting period. Fault grounds still exist in New Jersey law and may be applicable in your case. You should consult with a lawyer to discuss your situation and your options.
- A no-fault divorce is an uncontested divorce
No-fault refers to grounds for divorce or the legal basis for why you are seeking to get divorced. Uncontested refers to whether issues in addition to dissolving the marriage are resolved. These issues can include custody of children, finances, property, debt and other issues. The issues can be resolved by the parties with or without attorneys or through mediation. If the Court has to decide how issues are resolved, it is considered a contested divorce.
- Mediation is always less expensive
This may be true but like most things there are important exceptions. Before rushing into mediation, a free consultation with an attorney can help you analyze whether your situation is likely to be an exception. If you are involved with a high conflict separation, mediation may not be successful. If your marriage was marked by domestic violence, there may be an imbalance of power in the relationship that would also make mediation difficult.
- The person who wants the divorce pays for the divorce.
A New Jersey Court will not penalize a person for wanting a divorce. There are situations in which one spouse can be ordered to pay the other spouse’s fees, but these cases are based on factors other than who wants the divorce.
- If I got married in another state or country I cannot get divorce in New Jersey
If you have lived in New Jersey for a year before filing the divorce, you can get a divorce in New Jersey. If your case is based upon adultery you may be able to file before one year. Even if you do not live in New Jersey, if your spouse does, you may still meet the residency requirements. You should discuss your situation with a lawyer to see where you should file.
- I was married a short time, so I can get an annulment
In New Jersey annulment is primarily granted upon specific circumstances. A short marriage, standing alone, is not one of those circumstances. If you are interested in an annulment, you should speak with an experienced attorney to evaluate whether you meet the criteria under the law.
- We kept our finances separate, so what’s in my name is mine
New Jersey does not evaluate property, savings or investments in this manner. Unless you have a Pre-Nuptial Agreement stating otherwise, what is acquired during the marriage is potentially marital property subject to division between spouses.
If you would like to discuss these issues or have questions about obtaining a divorce, you should contact an experienced attorney to clarify any legally incorrect misconceptions you may be relying upon.